Contractors warned over planned ‘bad bank’ probe

Grant Prior 14 years ago

Construction companies in Northern Ireland will have to get their accounts in order ahead of a planned examination by the Republic’s “bad bank” of problem loans.

The National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) was set up to take €81bn of problem loans off the books of Ireland’s embattled banks – including about €5bn in loans related to property development in Northern Ireland.

Construction leaders and accountants are now warning affected contractors and developers to prepare business plans before NAMA starts looking at loans as early as next month.

Grant Thornton partner Michael Neary told a seminar organised by the Construction Employers Federation that local businesses could not afford to “sit on their hands”. He said: “NAMA will expect borrowers to prepare a detailed business plan and provide full disclosure.

“This means also looking at the assets and realistically planning on what can be done. The quality of a borrower’s business plan will have a major bearing on NAMA’s decision- making process and every borrower will have an opportunity to present an updated business case.

“Time is now critical and it is incumbent on property developers in Northern Ireland to focus, prepare and plan in the expectation that local development loans could be part of the second tranche of loans to be bought from the participating banks in the next few months.”

John Armstrong, CEF managing director said that it wasn’t all bad news as NAMA has also set aside £5bn to support viable projects to develop sites which would be determined through the business plans that property developers submit.

He said: “While things are still very uncertain, we do know that NAMA are taking a long-term approach as they are mandated to operate for the next 10 years. Over the next number of years it could be that as many as 200 individuals or businesses could be impacted by NAMA in Northern Ireland.

“However, NAMA will be taking a very commercial approach so any development sites that they see are viable, they will be prepared to fund to allow works to be completed.”

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